“In the emerging credit market, only the paranoid survive.”

Role: Head of Emerging Markets-Credit, Pictet Asset Management, responsible, together with his team, for managing corporate investment portfolios in emerging markets.
Based in: London
Home country: Democratic Republic of the Congo / Belgium
Hobbies: Krav Maga
Joined Pictet in: 2012

Alain, Head of Emerging Markets - Credit, Pictet Asset Management, London

Interview

Alain’s biggest turning point in life

“As a child I remember people talking about the Rumble in the Jungle, the Ali-Foreman fight in 1974. It was a really big thing. I like Ali’s mentality, he’s a winner… he talks a lot, but he ‘walks the talk’ too.” Born in Kinshasa, it’s a defining memory for Alain. But perhaps his most formative experience was moving to Brussels at the age of ten. “I liked the fact that I had to adapt. You needed a personality to make friends.”

Background

Alain had a classical education: he studied Latin and Greek: “My profile was more like that of a lawyer. But by 16 I wanted something more dynamic, like finance. It was a complete shift for me.” After gaining a Masters in Commercial Engineering at Solvay Brussels School, he worked as a credit analyst for Fortis Investment, where he later set up an emerging markets unit. Alain did the same thing at JP Morgan, right before joining Pictet.

Working at Pictet

Since joining Pictet in September 2012 as Head of Emerging Markets, Alain has built a team of nine. Called by a headhunter, he quizzed friends in the market. “Someone told me that the brand, the image of Pictet was of a very respectable institution. Once you’re in, it’s like a family, they said. It was an opportunity to start something very challenging for me. There was an entrepreneurial feel to it.

What skills do you need to work in the emerging credit market?

“To cover emerging credit you need different expertise, personalities and languages. You need to be able to understand the subtleties of the culture, the context.” Alain wants his analysts to spend time on the idiosyncratic risk, he says, because if one position goes bad it can ruin a year’s performance. “In credit, I like to say only the paranoid survive.” 

And in his spare time

“I manage stress through sports and family. Krav Maga is what I do. It’s a self-defense martial art developed by the Israeli military. It’s defensive not aggressive – it makes me more peaceful, less reactive.”